University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Fall: Die Kaiserin

08/21/2022 1:00 pm
08/21/2022 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Leo Fall (1873-1925) was in his time one of the foremost composers of Viennese operetta in its later Silver Age in the early twentieth century. But it was in Berlin, not Vienna where his highly successful Die Kaiserin premiered in 1915. War was constantly in the news, so the audience at Berlin's Metropol, the town's best house for popular musical revue, craved an escape from their wartime worries. Fall gave them what they wanted. He referred to his "Empress" operetta as "A Merry Game with the Rococo." Die Kaiserin is a sentimental romantic comedy that ought to remind you of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. It hearkens back to a glorious semi-mythological Central European past.

The Empress in Fall's Die Kaiserin is none other than the iconic Hapsburg monarch of Austria, Maria Teresia. She was the most marriageable young noblewoman in all Europe. The operetta focuses on the love match of the Hapsburg heiress to Duke Francis Stephan of Lorraine. The stage character of Maria Teresia has qualities of the Empress Sissi, the late wife of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef. Sissi was a figure beloved by the populace. Duke Francis is a theatrical throwback to the illustrious Prince Eugene of Savoy, Austria's military hero of the eighteenth century.

Die Kaiserin was revived onstage in the Summer of 2014 at the Lehar Festival of Bad Ischl, where it was recorded live in performance. Marius Burkert conducts the Franz Lehar Orchestra and Chorus of the Bad Ischl Lehar Festival. Die Kaiserin was issued in 2015 on two CDs through the German CPO label.